Wesley Gene Barnes is an American citizen who worked as a teacher in Thailand while the world was battling against the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. He made headlines after posting a negative review of a resort in the Southeast Asian country.
According to Barnes, he got the teaching job in Thailand on a tourist visa and obtained all of the documents from his school to apply for a Non-Immigrant Visa-B. He said he received a letter from Thailand’s Ministry of Education informing the Thailand Immigration Bureau that he was allowed to apply for a a Non-Immigrant Visa-B in the country due to COVID-19.
Barnes was on visa amnesty, his tourist visa expired on May 9, 2020 and his immigration office is in Samutprakarn, Thailand, he said. Here are 13 more things about him:
- He was born on May 2, 1983.
- He is 5’11”.
- He is originally from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, United States. He lived in various parts of Kansas including Lawrence, Olathe and Manhattan.
- After driving under influence of alcohol or drugs on May 8, 2004, he was jailed in a state prison in Kansas on August 02, 2004.
- He was released from state prison on February 3, 2009.
- On October 17, 2017, he claimed that he was a federal agent while inside Bobby Baker’s Lounge at 7418 Wornall Road in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, USA and showed a witness a handgun. He told the same story at Waldo Bar at 7438 Wornall Road and opened fired after being kicked out from the bar at about 1:00 a.m. on October 18, 2017. He opened fire again at 1:30 a.m. on the same day at the QuikTrip at 10232 Wornall Road. Police traced him through a credit card he used at the bar and on October 19, 2017, Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker charged him with two counts of unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of armed criminal action.
- He was 37 years old when he made headlines because of his TripAdvisor review of the Sea View Resort and Spa Koh Chang on Kai Bae Beach onKoh Chang Island, Trat, Thailand in 2020.
- On June 27, 2020, he visited the Sea View Resort and Spa Koh Chang with a friend. In the evening, they ate at the resort’s restaurant. When a waiter and the supervisor informed them that there is corkage fee of 500 baht ($15.8) for the alcoholic beverages they brought from outside, they started to cause a commotion, according to the resort. The resort’s director of food and beverage stepped in and eventually allowed him and his friend drink their alcohol without paying the corkage fee. He used abusing language towards employees, the Insider quoted the resort’s rooms division manager Tom Storup as saying. On June 28, 2020, he and his friend checked out from the Sea View Resort and Spa Koh Chang without complaints, according to the resort.
- On June 29, 2020, he wrote his first TripAdvisor review of the Sea View Resort and Spa Koh Chang. He accused the resort of modern day slavery. After a week, the site removed the review because it violated its guidelines.
- On July 3, 2020, he gave a 1/5 star review of the resort on TripAdvisor. He wrote verbatim, “Unfriendly staff, no one ever smiles. They act like they don’t want anyone there. The restaurant manager was the worst. He is from the Czech Republic. He is extremely rude and impolite to guests. Find a another place. There are plenty with nicer staff that are happy you are staying with them.”
- On September 10, 2020, he wrote in a Facebook group called Expats in Thailand verbatim, “I got my NON B visa today. Immigration officers were nice and friendly. It was an easy process. It only COST 2,000 baht. DON’T pay these crazy visa agencies. I did the entire process alone! It was not an issue at all! Contact your local immigration office to find out your options.”
- The Sea View Resort and Spa Koh Chang owner filed a defamation complaint against him. If convicted, he could be fined up to 100,000 baht ($3,200) and be jailed for up to five years. On September 12, 2020, he was booked and taken to court in Koh Chang. He claimed that only 30 minutes were left before court closed that day and he was told his bail was 100,000 baht ($3161), which he could not pay at the time. From September 12-13, 2020, he stayed in a local prison in Koh Chang with more than 1000 inmates. On September 14, 2020, he was able to bail out.
- On September 26, 2020, he sent a lengthy statement to Thailand-based British blogger Richard Barrow. He wrote verbatim in part, “My friend and I slept in Sea View Koh Chang resort in June. The visit started bad. We pulled up to the hotel to look at a room and get the price. We was told to go online. Eventually, we talked them into letting us see a room. We booked the room, over 6,000 baht for 1 night, and proceeded to enjoy our stay. The staff were unfriendly at every turn. The night progressed and we started drinking on the beach right outside of the restaurant. To avoid drinking and driving, we decided to eat at the restaurant at the hotel. We had our bottle of gin and was told it would cost an extra 500 baht to have it there. We were both shocked and complaint a little to the server but my friend was willing to pay for it. The server told the manager we complained and he came over with an attitude. After having a little to drink and paying so much for the room, I got a little attitude back. Eventually we was not charged. Before we left, my friend the peaceful one, wanted to tell the manager that he handled the situation wrong. The manager got upset and tried to argue with my friend. My friend brushed it off and didn’t argue with him. I did notice how the staff seemed scared of the management and more worried about management more than serving the customers. Later, on our balcony trying to enjoy the rest of our night, we see that manager with another employee, picking up room service dished I think. He was yelling and acting very aggressive. That was when I said I will write a review about this place when I leave. With that manager, I felt there was some type of master/slave mentality going on. So in my original post (that Never got posted) I used the phrase modern slavery. It was not nice by any means but it made my point and how I felt about the situation there. I could have never dreamt what would happen next. I got an email from the hotel telling me to remove all of my reviews or face criminal charges. Coming from the west, I felt it was an empty threat. Plus, the review that was used for defamation never got published. Boy, was I wrong. I went for my visa. The next day immigration police was at my workplace with a warrant for my arrest. I was taken to immigration where I waited for Koh Chang police to pick me up and take me to Koh Chang.”
- On October 9, 2020, the Sea View Resort and Spa Koh Chang agreed to drop charges against him as long as he apologizes to media, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the U.S. Embassy and the Tripadvisor website before November 2020. He agreed to the terms. The hotel told Reuters, “Under conditions that Mr. Barnes shows his sincerity and takes full responsibility for what had happened and remedy the situation, the hotel will be delighted to drop the charge.”
(This is a developing story. More details will be added soon.)